So, you want to go to a convention?
Or maybe you've been going to conventions for a while, and want to bring along a friend who's new to the idea and you want to prepare them as best as possible?
I compiled a list of what I think is the 10 most important pieces of advice to give to anyone going to a convention, may it be a comic con or a hotel based event.
10. Reset Your Phone
Maybe you don't have the most up to date smartphone on the market, but you want to make sure you won't have any problems with your phone during a convention weekend; reset your phone to its factory settings!
Be sure to copy over your photos, videos and save your contacts to an SD card or to your email account if you're using an Android based phone, iCloud if you're using an iPhone, before resetting, as otherwise you'll lose all your precious selfies and snapchat face swaps.
Phones are like computers and can get viruses that you won't even be aware of, so resetting can help make your phone run faster, and ensures you have the space to take lots of new photos at the convention you're going to!
Also, no cosplayer likes to stand posing for minutes on end as you're phone is having problems as you go to ask for a photo!
9. Bring a Travel Charger
All that selfie taking, Pokemon Go playing, video filming, and social media checking even though you're meant to be socialising can drain anyone's phone battery, so make sure to bring a fully charged travel charger with you to any convention.
Not only is it helpful so you can take selfies all day long, but if for any reason you get lost or separated from your friends, you know that you'll have enough battery to get through those type of situations!
8. Make Packing Checklists
Even with 'simple' cosplays, they'll be so many elements to them that the list of items that incorporates the entire outfit could fit onto a scroll. Taking that into consideration, making checklists for a convention can be incredibly helpful.
You can make a checklist any way you like, on Microsoft Word, hand written, on Mac desktop stickies or within the memo pad app within your smart phone, either way, write down every single element of your cosplay, and when it comes to packing, and then wearing it the day of a con, check the list to make sure you haven't forgotten anything!
What can be even more helpful is, if you keep your cosplay within a dress bag, print out a small version of your checklist and place it on the dress bag pocket if it has one, or attach it via a safety pin. That way you know what's in that dress bag, and it makes the cosplay easier for storing in your home later on.
7. Bring a First Aid Kit
This is really important. Although there will be first aiders on site at venues conventions are held at, if you know there are pains you are prone to, prepare!
I make sure to pack painkillers, travel sickness pills, allergen tablets, eye drops if I'm wearing contact lenses, spare gel cushions for my feet if I'm wearing heels or heeled boots and my prescribed medication.
You don't want a headache or pain from your ridiculous cosplay boots getting in the way of your fun, so take your health into consideration when shopping and packing for your next con!
6. Bring Entertainment
If at a hotel based convention, you won't always want to be fluttering around like the social butterfly you are, sometimes you'll want to go back to your hotel room and relax for a little bit. Or, maybe you want to play games with your friends in your hotel room, rather than partying up downstairs?
Bringing some entertainment with you can really help make conventions memorable. I always bring my Nintendo 3DS so I can play Street Pass with all the people I would of collected who may also of brought their 3DS's, or so I can play a game for a little bit upstairs, while I have juice and refuel for the events later on in that day.
Some people I know bring books to read, a pack of cards and other card games.
You've spent a long time organising for a convention, so even in your downtime you don't want to be bored! So try and think of something to bring for those quiet moments, or for the long travelling ahead, that won't take up much space in your suitcase!
5. Prepare a Con Bag
There's a few things you'll want to have with you throughout a convention, like your wallet, phone, camera, I.D, chewing gum, print outs of your tickets and more, so it's important to have a place to store all those things!
Look out or buy a small bag that you can use specifically for conventions. I personally suggest smaller bags as conventions tend to be busy, so you don't want to be hitting people repeatedly at you walk past them, also, it prevents any pains from too much weight being placed on your shoulders if you're bringing a lot of things with you, or if you bought lots of merchandise from the dealer's room.
Also look out for bags that have pockets within them for makeup, incase your cosplay makeup needs topping up throughout the day, and space enough for your camera if you're bringing your DSLR to do shoots or Cosplay Music Videos.
Better yet, if you're cosplaying, research and see if the character you're doing wears a bag within the media they're from and make that so your bag matches your outfit! I happened to already have the official Hyrulian Shield Zelda Backpack so when I decided to cosplay Wind Waker Link at Scotland Comic Con 2015, it seemed only fitting that that was the bag I used!
If your character doesn't have a bag, even try matching your bag to something they might have within the media they're from. When I cosplayed Tifa from Final Fantasy VII at Scotland Comic COn 2015, I attached an official ShinRA sticker to my con bag, that I purchased from the official Square Enix website, so that my bag matched my cosplay.
4. Contact Photographers Before the Con
This is a bit of advice that's taken directly from personal experience. After conventions, it can be sad to go back to work, come home to check your social media pages and not see any photos of your completed cosplay that took you hours to make that you debuted at the con the weekend before.
Join cosplay groups on Facebook, or even contact photographers you like the work of and contact them to try and arrange shoots or chances to get your photo taken during the con. Not only will this stop the disheartening feeling of not having anything to show for after the event, but it means you get to work with and meet new people in the process!
Don't be shocked if a photographer asks to be paid also. They're artists and photography may likely be their job. If you really like their work, you should pay them for their time and effort to take photos for you!
Just make sure when you go to meet these photographers during events, that you have someone with you, or have met them before to ensure your safety.
3. Bring Up to Date Photo ID
Some conventions require you to bring valid I.D for you to collect your con badge and confirm your registration, so bringing valid photo I.D, either in the form of a driver's licence, provisional drivers licence or passport is really important.
I've heard stories of people travelling for 5 hours and more to travel to Kitacon, only to realise they've forgotten their I.D which meant they had to travel back home and to the con again.
Also, if there's any purchases you want to make that are DVD's or blurays with and 18 certificate, or maybe you want a drink at the hotel bar, having I.D on you will avoid any awkwardness having your age come into question.
2. Buy Food and Drink for Your Hotel Room
Hotel based conventions within the UK are becoming very few and in between, especially as it's easier and cheaper for attendees to attend one day or weekend long comic con events at their local venues.
When I went to my first con in 2010, it was a hotel based convention that lasted three days, and when meeting my first cosplaying friends, they mentioned other events and the fun that would happen overnight between days of the convention. At these conventions, you don't have to stay onsite, or at all, but trust me in that the hotel based conventions that mean you have to travel and stay within the venue where the con is being held are the best type of events.
A lot of these conventions can be held at hotels, such as Kitacon, that until now as been held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole in Birmingham, England, and hotels can be expensive. What me and my friends have done the past Kitacon event we have attended, is that once we arrive at the hotel, we drop our stuff off in our rooms, then head out to a local supermarket, and stock up on food and general essentials. (Alcohol is an essential, right?)
I usually buy small bottles of juice, preferably Irn Bru it it can be found in England, Pot Noodles as hotel rooms usually always have a kettle to boil water, green tea, crisps, chocolate, some plastic cups, large bottles of juice and of course, some spirits and beers.
Buying these will ensure that I keep hydrated and full of energy, as sometimes at a con there is so much going on, and so many people to see and talk to that making sure you're fed isn't a priority anymore.
Pot Noodles are especially my con food favourite, as you can use your in-room kettle to make yourself a cheap dinner, that'll keep you going and fill you up. Plus, they're suitable for vegetarians!
Be sure to try and buy little multipacks of juice so you can fit them in any bag you wear throughout the con floor or rooms. If you're cosplaying, wearing all that armour, layers and wigs can make you sweat and tire you out easily, so making sure you have a water or soft drink supply close to you at all times is really important!
1. Have Fun!
This may sound really obvious and really dumb of me to say but, if you're like me and you've been going to cons for a good few years, you know how much drama can be involved amongst con-goers and especially cosplayers!
Not just drama, but conventions can be overwhelming, and as a result make you really anxious. Either as you know a lot of people will be there, or you're worried about how your cosplay will be received, or maybe there's an ex you're worried you'll run into.
Try and ignore as much previous drama as you can and focus on having a good time. Think about all the money, time and effort you've been into getting organised for just one weekend - would you want a couple of people you fell out with or who made fun of your cosplays before hand to ruin all that?
Focus on friends there that treat you right, and focus on making new friends too!
That's my favourite bit of any convention.
Did any of these tips help you?
Is there any important bits of advice I haven't listed here that you'd want to add?
I'd like to hear from you so comment below, and together we can help make conventions more about the fun, and less about stress.